Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro today got the first ever Chinese Grand Prix off the starting blocks with a press conference held at the Grand Hyatt International Hotel in the centre of Shanghai. The event got underway with team press officer, Luca ...
Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro today got the first ever Chinese Grand Prix off the starting blocks with a press conference held at the Grand Hyatt International Hotel in the centre of Shanghai.
The event got underway with team press officer, Luca Colajanni introducing a few videos aimed at increasing the local media's understanding of the sport of Formula 1. The first one told the history of Ferrari, dating back to its creation by Enzo Ferrari and covering its past history and an overview of the Maranello factory.
The next one brought the story up to date, featuring comments from Luca Di Montezemolo and Jean Todt, culminating with the Scuderia's conquering of this year's Constructors' and Drivers' titles, the fourteenth for the team in both categories.
Next came the drivers who faced questions from around 400 media and photographers, most of them Chinese. Michael Schumacher had arrived in the city on Tuesday and team-mate Rubens Barrichello on Wednesday morning. Both drivers expressed their delight at being in Shanghai.
"We cannot wait to see the track," said the Brazilian. "It has been an amazing achievement to get it and its fantastic structures completed in time for the race." Schumacher revealed that several of the current F1 drivers had been consulted when it came to the actual layout of the track.
"Hopefully we have contributed to making it exciting to driver and it should also offer some real overtaking opportunities," said the German. "Tomorrow, we will ride round it on bikes or scooters to take a closer look."
Both Ferrari men admitted to being impressed by the enthusiastic welcome they had received from the fans here. "Unfortunately, I have no time for a holiday at the moment, but I hope to see something of this city over the next few days," added Schumacher.
Asked if they spend time together off the track, Rubens joked that they liked to go drinking Caipirinha together, before adding more seriously: "on the track, we are always working together during practice and test sessions when we work for the team. But when the race starts on Sunday, we are rivals."
Could Barrichello make sure of second place in the Drivers' classification in China? "That would be nice, but my aim is to try and win the last three races as that means more to me than championship position."
Michael's impressive list of race wins is well known, so one Chinese journalist wanted to know what he did with all his trophies. "I keep them in a special display room at home," he replied. "And I would really like to be able to add the winner's trophy from Sunday's first Chinese GP to my collection!"
Schumacher has occasionally tried his hand at other racing disciplines outside F1, so would he ever consider a career as a rally driver for example. "No, I don't think so," he smiled. "I play to my strengths and that means sticking with F1."
As for his other great love, soccer, the German does not think he is good enough." I love football, but I realised at an early age that I did not have the talent to be a top professional. Maybe I could play if they ran a series for veterans!"
Although not quite a veteran, Schumacher is in 14th F1 season, so when will he think about retiring. "One day, someone will come along and beat me consistently and when I find someone is quicker and I am not competitive, then it will be time for me to think about retirement."
The Shanghai circuit has no names for its corners, unlike many of the GP tracks and Barrichello was asked if he would like to have a corner named after him. "It would be an honour of course," he responded. "But to be honest, in our work, when we talk with our engineers, we always refer to 'turn 1, turn 2,' and so on.
At the end of this well-attended press conference, Mr. Yu, the Deputy General Manager of the Shanghai International Circuit Corporation stepped up on stage to officially welcome the drivers to Shanghai. He presented both of them with highly-prized coloured glass sculptures that are symbols destined to bring a life time of good luck to their owners.